From Corporate Life to Brewing in a Barn Full-Time

Bent Shovel is a four year-old nano brewery on a farm, in a barn that I wrote about November 2015 when they were just a few months old. Since then, they’ve grown, the owner, Rick Strauss, has left his corporate job to brew beer full time, and the brewery just got a new system. Here’s what new with them.

New 10-barrel system will accelerate output
The addition of the new system will allow Strauss to brew more beer and make it easier. “We were always battling to have enough beer with the old system. The new system really makes it easy to produce high quality beers. It’s one of those things. I wish I’d been able to do it sooner,” he says.

The new 10-barrel system purchased from Practical Fusion lets Strauss produce more beer in a single brew where previously the old system had him enduring 12 hour double batch session to keep up. The new system has engineered head space in both the mash tun and the kettle that allows Bent Shovel to “really push our ten barrel fermenters.”

Leaving the corporate world
Thinking of launching your own brewery with a full-time job? After working full-time in tech and running the brewery at night and on weekends, Strauss cut the corporate cord.

“After a couple hard years of being everywhere all the time and doing two jobs full time, it literally got to the point where there wasn’t enough of me to go around,” he says. “You may be taking that little risk and starting a brewery, it’s the same kind of a reach, I think to say goodbye to the assumed security of the corporate cubicle.”

Now, the days are a bit different. Some days, he goes out and sells beer. Other days, he’s delivering beers, and other days he’s producing beers.

Strauss says now that he’s devoting his full time to running a brewery it’s getting to a point where they’re hitting their stride, maximizing what the system can do. The brewery has also added fermenter capacity allowing for additional growth. “There’s certainly some room to grow here. I’m excited for what the new system allows me to do. We’re excited for what the new system can do, making more great beer, and getting our beers out to new audiences.”

Bent Shovel is located at 21678 S Latourette Road in Oregon City (look for the sign and big red barn).

John Chilson
John Chilson

John Chilson writes about Portland history and architecture at Lost Oregon. He's also written for Neighborhood Notes, Travel Oregon, Portland Architecture,, San Diego Reader, and Portland Food and Drink. Follow him on twitter at @LostOregon for local history nerdism; for beer tweets he's at @Hopfrenzy. Shoot him an email at if you want to get in touch.